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Student reflections: Women in Public Service Project

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Lacey Giles '14 (back row, far right) represented Mount St. Mary's College at the recent Women in Public Service Project conference held in New York City.

‘The greatest experience of my life’
This time last spring, Mount St. Mary’s College was preparing to co-host the Institute for Women’s Leadership in Latin America. The Institute came about as part of the Women in Public Service Project, which envisions a world in which women make up 50 percent of political and civic leadership by 2050.

Thirty emerging women leaders from 16 Latin American countries attended the Institute; five students from Mount St. Mary’s College also were chosen to participate in a special track focusing on politics and women’s issues in Latin America. Tiana Bradley ’13, then a senior, was one of the students selected.

“The Women and Public Service Project Institute was the greatest experience of my life,” she says. “During that two-week-long project, I met amazing, talented women whom I now can call my friends, my mentors and, most of all, my inspirational leaders.”

Bradley graduated from the Mount last year with a major in political science and a double minor in pre-law and international relations. As a senior, she was working to start an Amnesty International chapter at Mount St. Mary’s. During the Institute, Bradley had the chance to meet national ambassadors, leading CEOs, directors of influential non-governmental organizations and political activists.

“It was so encouraging to meet so many amazing women at that conference,” Bradley says. “As I move forward, my only hope for my future is to be as successful as the women I encountered, and to use their words of wisdom and pass them down to the generations of women that will soon be in my old place – as college students trying to make a difference.”

‘Improving the lives of women’
Mount St. Mary’s participation in the project continued throughout 2013. In the summer, Mount St. Mary’s President Ann McElaney-Johnson delivered the opening remarks at the first Women in Public Service Institute in China. Most recently, last fall, MSMC student Lacey Giles ’14, traveled to attend the Women in Public Service Project conference held at Barnard College, in New York City.

Giles is studying history with a minor in chemistry, with her independent research focusing on the history of sciences and the socio-cultural effects of new technologies. Before coming to the Mount, Giles had already attended universities in Europe and North Africa, and had the chance to work with a nonprofit in Ghana that focuses on women’s and family health.

The WPSP conference held at Barnard brought together U.N. representatives, former heads of state and other global leaders for a discussion of how to grow the ranks of women in leadership positions at the highest levels of government. Giles had the chance to contribute to that discussion.

“I’m interested in, and optimistic about, the role of science education in improving public health and, in particular, the lives of women in the developing world,” she says. “The conference was an incredible opportunity to talk about issues like that. We need more women leaders who can speak up and talk about these things.”

For more information about the Women in Public Service Project, go to http://womeninpublicservice.wilsoncenter.org/. To learn more about on-campus leadership opportunities at the Mount, visit our Office of Women’s Leadership.